Polar Bear Plunge

The ninth annual Polar Bear Plunge really should be an Olympic sport, a contest for regular folks like us. There’s no particular training involved and certainly no special diet—since you want as much fat as possible to stay warm in Lake Washington. (The water is usually a little over 40 degrees at this time of year, an instant cure for hangovers lingering from New Year’s Eve.) For equipment, all you need is a swimsuit or, better yet, a silly seasonal costume. As for technique, just wade into the water, hold your nose, and dunk. (Points for style and technical difficulty will not be awarded; and there’s no need to worry about bias from the East German judges.) However, the post-dip routine is fairly critical. After exiting the frigid water, screaming in pain and (guys) clutching your diminished package, you should have a pit-crew waiting with warm blankets and woolen clothing. If you can rig a dozen hair dryers to your car’s battery, so much the better. The event organizers will provide hot cocoa, but no one’s likely to object if you bring your own flask. BRISTOL BLENHEIM III

Sat., Jan. 1, noon, 2011

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